WHO ARE WE?
- We are a nation with all the characteristic features of a subject according to International Law. We are only missing political sovereignty.
- We have a clearly defined territory.
- We have a population – currently 7,500,000 (seven and a half million) inhabitants.
- We have a public administration with legislative, executive and judicial powers.
- We are a Mediterranean people - peaceful, democratic and open. Our country is a melting pot. These features are all part of the DNA of Catalonia and its people.
WHAT DO WE HAVE?
- We have our own language, Catalan. We also speak Spanish and many people can speak English, French or Italian.
- We have our own thousand-year-old culture.
- We have had our own system of laws ever since the Middle Ages, especially regarding maritime law. In 1714 we lost our public law system and public institutions such as our government, the GENERALITAT, as a consequence of the War of The Spanish Succession. This governing body was not reinstalled until 1979.
- We have the best football team in the world – Barça, Barcelona Football Club.
- But above all, we have an individual and collective desire to become a sovereign state through the ballot box - carrying out the democratic right to decide our own future and accepting the result, whatever it may be.
- Our only weapons are democratic legitimacy expressed freely and legally through the ballot box.
WHAT DO WE WANT AND WHY?
- We want respect for our language, our culture, our industry, our businesses, our economy, our government, and our capacity for financing and managing Catalan resources for our land and its people. To sum up, we want a status with Spain different to the one we have had since at least 2006.
- We believe that this new status, whether it be independence or a different relationship with Spain, will be good for us, good for the rest of Spain, and good for Europe – including EU and non-EU countries.
- Everybody will be a winner. We aim for “unity within diversity” as Jaques Delors once said. A free and agreed unity, not one imposed against our will.
WHERE ARE WE NOW AND WHY?
- After Franco died in 1975 we all fought together to reinstall democracy, fundamental freedoms and political rights for everyone.
- In 1978 a Spanish Constitution was passed which recognized the historic nationalities in Spain, such as Catalonia, and set up a virtually federal state.
- The democratic system which had been lost in the Civil War was reinstalled; including the Catalan government – the Generalitat – , its exiled President, and other democratic bodies necessary under a rule of law.
- In 1979, in accordance with the Spanish Constitution, the sovereign nation of Catalonia drew up and passed the Statute of Catalonia. This paper provides the basic laws of Catalonia and is a kind of constitution for sub-states.
- But, ever since then, the central government of Spain has recentralized governance and limited “de iure” or ”de facto” Catalonia’s legal powers on matters such as education, language, justice, economy, taxation, and so on.
DEMOCRATIC LEGITIMACY VERSUS IMMOVEABLE LEGALITY
- The Spanish constitution included the “iter democratic” to modify the Statute of Catalonia. After a long process, a modification and updating of the Statute was finally passed in 2006.
- This process followed all the legal and legitimate proceedings which make up the essence of democracy. It was passed by the Catalan Parliament, the Spanish Parliament and in a referendum of the citizens of Catalonia - the only people who could vote constitutionally under what is known as the citizens’ “right to decide”. Finally the Statute was signed by the King of Spain as the current head of state. To sum up,
CONSTITUTIONAL LEGALITY AND IMPECCABLE DEMOCRATIC LEGITIMACY!
- Other federal states, or autonomous communities, of Spain carried out the same process, even copying some of Catalonia’s new changes and no one challenged this.
- But, Mr Rajoy and the People’s Party which was in opposition at that time, campaigned collecting signatures all over Spain to request that the Constitutional Court revise Catalonia’s legitimately passed statute.
- Four years later the incomplete Constitutional Court with only ten of its twelve members, some already years past their maximum term of service, and with a politically biased nature, eventually declared that some of the Statute’s articles contravened the Spanish constitution. This happened in June 2010.
- However, the same articles which were declared illegal in Catalonia were accepted and came into effect in other autonomous communities! This is incredible, especially from a democratic point of view. The sovereignty of a people, its parliaments and the King himself were overruled by a politicized court.
- Besides this, from 2006 onwards there has been a re-centralization of certain powers held by Catalonia and a restrictive interpretation of other ones, as well as unfair fiscal balances between Spain and Catalonia.
- On the eleventh of September 2012 there was a huge peaceful demonstration in Barcelona – entire families came from all over Catalonia asking for a better set-up for Catalonia. The following day the Catalan President spoke to the Spanish President, Mr Rajoy. He requested an improved relationship and a new fiscal agreement for Catalonia. Rajoy’s answer then, and since then, was A CLEAR NO. Spanish legality does not allow this, he says.
- Early elections were called for November 2012. After these, the Catalan President – Mr Mas – requested permission to hold a referendum where Catalans could express themselves regarding their own future. The Spanish answer was yet another refusal. A REFERENDUM WOULDN’T BE CONSTITUTIONAL. SO, NO, AND NO AGAIN - FOREVER AND EVER!
- In September 2013, Catalans organized a popular human chain. Peaceful and festive, this chain was made up of two million people and covered 400 km. A clear proof that the Catalan people, ALL CATALONIA, want to decide their own future.
- In December 2013, the majority of the Catalan parliament set November 9th 2014 as the date for the referendum.
- The Spanish government stated that this referendum is illegal and anti-constitutional, and that the Spanish constitution cannot be altered. They claim the constitution does not allow for any kind of referendum in Catalonia.
- Faced with Catalonia’s determination to continue, the Spanish government responds with economic threats, changes to the status of the Catalan language and culture, smears against Catalonia and Catalans, and threatens that Catalonia will have to leave Europe forever and never be allowed back in. A CATASTROPHIC FUTURE INDEED!
- Meanwhile, Europe and the world continue to invest in Catalonia. Barcelona is the third-ranking city in the world in terms of tourism. It is the capital of the mobile phone industry. It has the most important port in the Mediterranean and the busiest airport. Oh, and Xavi and Messi’s Barça are still winning...
No one knows what will happen on November 9th or afterwards. But what we do know is that the wish of a people, and their LEGITIMATE RIGHT TO DEMOCRATICALLY EXPRESS THEIR RIGHT TO DECIDE THEIR OWN FUTURE, cannot be systematically refused by an IMMOVEABLE LEGALITY. Voting and deciding is the peaceful and democratic way that a people express themselves. Preventing this vote is to show fear of the democratic result of the wishes of Catalonia’s citizens.
The principles and values on which the European Union is based, as seen in the EU Treaties and its Charter of Fundamental Rights, are obviously: democracy, freedom, and above all, respect for the importance of its citizens and their individual and collective dignities.
Laws must adapt to democratic and majority wishes. They do not exist to limit democracy.
Professor of International Law at the University of Barcelona
President of United Nations of Spain (ANUE)